MERIDIAN -- The 4th annual Patriot Thunder rolled through the Valley Sunday, as hundreds of bikers raised money for veterans and military families.

About 950 people took part in the event, and raised thousands for three great causes. They include the Wyakin Warriors Foundation, which helps severely disabled vets, and the Idaho Guard and Reserve Family Support Fund and Mountain Home Air Force Base's Operation Warmheart, which both help the families of deployed service members.

It's rough. If someone is deployed and worried about their family, they're not going to be focused when they're in the field, said TSgt. Steven Walker (Ret.), an Air Force veteran, who was one of the riders on Sunday. If they know there are people back here to help take care of them... Then, that's what it's all about.

Brig. Gen. Bill Shawver, Commander of the Idaho Air Guard, was a guest speaker. We have the easy job. It's the folks that we leave behind that have to deal with the day-to-day challenges of their spouse being gone... their mother, their father, their brother, their sister.

You learn that you can never give back enough, said Col. Joe Cardona (Ret.), who was one of the lead riders. You're always paying forward, and you're always paying for what you received, particularly the blessings.

Some thunder in the sky, by way of a World War Two-era plane flyover, was a prelude to the actual ride.

It's gotten bigger every year, said Walker. It's just an amazing sight.

That sight, is hundreds of motorcycles rolling across the Valley, veterans, non-veterans, families of military members, and just people who want to say thanks in a big way.

Brig. Gen. Shawver expressed his thanks. To have our community, our employers, our sponsors, citizens support those of us that are in the military, and those folks that are in harm's way, is comforting to all of us.

We ride all different machines, but we have one heart, said Cardona. We support our country, we support our community, and we support our families.

Besides being a great fundraiser for all those charities, and a great way to show support, Patriot Thunder is also officially the largest motorcycle charity event in Idaho.

For more information on Patriot Thunder, click here.

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